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COVID-19 Stories: Creating a Mini UWC at Home

10 March 2020

UWC Parent Welcomes Five UWC Changshu China Students Into Her Home

Alison is a child psychiatrist and mother of one UWC-USA alum, and two current UWC students: one at UWC-USA and one at UWC Changshu China. When her son, Aidan (UWC Changshu China, 2018-2020), called her in January with the news that the campus would not reopen after the Chinese New Year break due to new government advice following the Coronavirus outbreak, his second question (after clarifying arrangements for him to come home) was whether he could bring classmates with him who had nowhere to go. Alison’s answer was almost immediate: 

“I said of course! We are currently based in South Korea and since August have had an empty nest as our five children have all left the house. At first two of Aidan’s schoolmates arrived and now there are four of them staying with us, plus Aidan. So we now have one student from Trinidad and Tobago, one from Peru, one from Taiwan, one from the USA, and my son. It’s like having a mini UWC school at our house!”

Speaking about the experience of hosting the students at this distressing time, Alison says: 

“It has of course not been easy for the students, when they first arrived they were quarantined because they had just arrived from China, then we had a brief period where we could get out of the house and explore, and now South Korea has also introduced a lockdown. Despite all of this, the students have been fantastic. They have shown so much resilience and they are getting on with their work and are helping each other out with projects and essays. The only trouble is finding a time where we can all meet for dinner, because their online learning schedules are so varied due to the many time zones their classmates are in.”

When asked what the situation has revealed to her and to the students, Alison reflected: 

“It has shown to me what we can achieve as a community when we all come together. I have been very impressed with how the school is handling the situation, we have been kept closely informed as parents and I have even had opportunities to speak directly to the Principal. I was also impressed with how quickly the online learning programme was set up for the students. And I think the kids have learnt a lot too through this experience of being displaced in a foreign environment. I hope it has helped them to see that regardless of what they are faced with, it is possible to retool and adapt and to overcome those obstacles - even if it is not the ideal situation.”

Ending the interview on a positive note, Alison says: “I can’t say enough how much I love UWC, this whole experience has been much more of a treat for me than it has been a burden.”